Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard Preview

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The Controllers Up Close

Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard Layout

Intel P55 Express chipset has the codename Ibex Peak and will be the upcoming mainstream desktop computer chipset from Intel. It is expected to be released in Q3 2009 if all goes as planned. The P55 Express chipset supports Intel’s LGA 1156 socket and Core i5 processors. This new P55 Express is considered a Platform Controller Hub (PCH) and uses the Direct Media Interface (DMI) interconnect versus the QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) that is seen on the enthusiast Intel X58 platform. Since this chipset has yet to be released we can’t go into much more detail, so you’ll have to wait for the deep dive on the architecture till the launch date.

Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard Layout

The 7.1+2 Channel High-Definition audio with Content Protection on the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard is thanks to the Realtek ALC889A codec shown in the picture above. The ALC889 is a high-performance multi-channel High Definition Audio Codec with Realtek proprietary loss-less content protection technology that protects pre-recorded content while still allowing full-rate audio enjoyment from DVD audio, Blue-ray DVD, or HD DVD discs. The ALC889 provides ten DAC channels that simultaneously support 7.1 sound playback, plus 2 channels of independent stereo sound output (multiple streaming) through the front panel stereo outputs.

Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard Layout

The Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard features dual Gigabit Ethernet that is powered by a pair of Realtek RTL8111D chipsets. The Realtek RTL8111D-GR/RTL8111DL-GR Gigabit Ethernet controller combines a triple-speed IEEE 802.3 compliant Media Access Controller (MAC) with a triple-speed Ethernet transceiver, PCI Express bus controller and embedded memory. With state-of-the-art DSP technology and mixed-mode signal technology, the RTL8111D/RTL8111DL offers high-speed transmission over CAT 5 UTP cable or CAT 3 UTP (10Mbps only) cable. Functions such as Crossover Detection and Auto-Correction, polarity correction, adaptive equalization, cross-talk cancellation, echo cancellation, timing recovery, and error correction are implemented to provide robust transmission and reception capability at high speeds. The RTL8111D/RTL8111DL is compliant with the IEEE 802.3u specification for 10/100Mbps Ethernet and the IEEE 802.3ab specification for 1000Mbps Ethernet. It also supports an auxiliary power auto-detect function, and will auto-configure related bits of the PCI power management registers in PCI configuration space.

Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard Layout

The two powered eSATA ports (that double as two of the USB ports) and IDE support are thanks to the JMicron JMB362 controller. The JMB362 is a single chip, 1-lane PCI Express to 2-port Serial ATA II Host Controller. JMB362 supports both AHCI and Legacy IDE controller to increase system feasibility, including Native Command Queuing, ATAPI Device, Port Multiplier with Command-based Switching, Hot Plugging like USB and eSATA (External SATA) connection on SATA port to enhance SATA II capability.

Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard Layout

The Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 motherboards IEEE1394a Firewire ports are provided by the Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 controller shown above. This IEEE 1394a integrated link controller and physical layer (PHY) device has been around since July 2001, so it’s been proven to be stable and have rock solid drivers. The only downside to this controller is that it is rather large and takes up a fair amount of board space. This controller is able to operate 3-ports of IEEE1394a Firewire and operates on the PCI Bus.

Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard Layout

What one would expect to be the “Southbridge” heatsink on the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard is nothing more than a small heatsink that covers the two Marvell 88SE9123-NAA2 SATA 6Gbps controllers. We recently reported that the Marvell 88SE9123-NAA2 controller was being pulled off many P55 motherboards due to performance issues. Marvell then contacted Legit Reviews with the following statement:

Recent news of delays of SATA 6Gb/s product launches is due to a hardware issue related to PATA (legacy Parallel ATA, or IDE) compatibility on the Marvell 88SE9123. This Marvell controller chip supports both 6Gb/s SATA as well as PATA on the same chip. It is the legacy PATA functionality, not the SATA, which is the root cause of the product delays. Marvell has already identified a solution to the PATA issue and a new chip revision to resolve the issue will be introduced quickly. To date, as far as Marvell is aware, no SATA (6Gb/s, 3Gb/s, or 1.5Gb/s) issues with the 88SE9123 have been reported by Marvell customers or partners, or discovered via extensive Marvell internal qualification testing. Marvell continues to work with its customers and partners on development, as well as on compatibility and performance testing in preparation for the 6Gb/s SATA industry introduction, which remains on track for a 2009 launch. – Marvell PR

With a new revision of this controller in the making it is possible that many of the retail boards might be featuring this controller even though rumors that it has been removed have been circulating.

That concludes our sneak peak at the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 Motherboard for the upcoming LGA1156 socket platform using the Intel P55 Express chipset for Lynfield CPUs!

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